Surge in Blackpool takeaways coincides with rise in obesity

The growth in fast food outlets is fuelling obesity
The growth in fast food outlets is fuelling obesity
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The number of fast food outlets in Blackpool has almost doubled in eight years - at the same time as obesity levels in the town have risen.

The number of fast food outlets in Blackpool has almost doubled in eight years - at the same time as obesity levels in the town have risen.

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New figures show the resort has the second highest number of takeaways per head of population in the country.

Since 2010 the number of fast food sellers has increased from 70 to the current number of 135.

It means nearly half (47 per cent) of the 285 food outlets in Blackpool are selling fast food, according to figures collected by the BBC.

This adds up to 97 takeaways per 100,000 people and puts the resort second only to Westminster in London when it comes to easy access to this type of food.

Town hall chiefs say the high number is partly down to businesses meeting demand from the tourism industry, while measures are being taken to encourage healthier eating and control where takeaways are located.

This would require new planning powers to prevent takeaways from opening. But any new controls have to be agreed and enshrined in the Local Plan which is currently being updated.

Until that process has been completed, the council is restricted in what it can do to prevent more fast food outlets from opening.

Coun Amy Cross, cabinet member for adult services and health, said: “We do have a policy in the Blackpool Local Plan 2001-2016 which seeks to locate takeaways only in the town centre, district and local centres.

"This is being looked at in more detail as part of the update to that plan.

“The reported figures don’t take into account the 18 million visits that are made by people to Blackpool every year, only the number of residents.

"The majority of the fast food outlets in Blackpool are located in three wards along the Promenade, an area which has a significantly higher population
every summer than just the people who live here."

The Healthier Choices Award has been introduced which encourages eateries to make changes such as reducing portion sizes and salt content.

Coun Cross added: "Some great initiatives include the work being undertaken in schools with parents and children taking part in sessions discussing how to create healthy lunch boxes, the healthy eating cooking programmes, free school breakfasts, Walk to School projects and the Give up Loving Pop (Gulp)
campaigns."

Blackpool was the first council to adopt the Local Authority Healthy Weight Declaration in 2016 which is a commitment to tackle obesity.

The BBC's Shared Data Unit, which analysed the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, found nationally the UK has seen a 34 per cent increase in fast food outlets from 2010 to 2018.

The latest official obesity figures for Blackpool show 83,000 adults are overweight or obese – that is 72 per cent of resort’s population.

Just over a quarter (25.7 per cent) of reception-age children are overweight or obese, while among Year 6 pupils the figure is 34.3 per cent.